Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Gene Youngblood | Expanded Cinema

Gene Youngblood
Expanded Cinema
New York City, USA: E. P. Dutton, 1970
432 pp., hardcover
Edition size unknown

A best-selling prescient work which reshaped the fields of art and communications, predicted technological advances in filmmaking, and offered the first serious recognition of video and software-based works as art forms, with a foreword by Buckminster Fuller. 

Youngblood taught a class with Nam June Paik at the California Institute of the Artists, one of the first courses on the subject of the history of video arts. His book is divided into six sections: "The Audience and the Myth of Entertainment", "Synaesthetic Cinema: The End of Drama", "Toward Cosmic Consciousness", "Cybernetic Cinema and Computer Films", "Television as a Creative Medium" and "Intermedia". The final chapter heading is a term coined by Fluxus Artist Dick Higgins, and the section explores work by artists such as Carolee Schneemann and Robert Whitman, who  combined film projection with live performance, and Wolf Vostell, who incorporated video experiments into environmental contexts.

Stan VanDerBeek coined the term Expanded Cinema, but  “it was Gene Youngblood who put it on the cover of a book, filled it with rocket fuel, and sent it buzzing through the late-1960s art world like a heat-seeking missile,” wrote Caroline A. Jones in Artforum, on the occasion of the book’s fiftieth anniversary in 2020. 

Youngblood died on yesterday in Santa Fe, at the age of seventy-eight.

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